8 Beach Games to Play All Summer Long

published May 29, 2023
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Young couple and their two kids spending the day at the beach
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Heading to the beach this summer means different things to different people. While you may be content reading a page-turning novel all day with the sound of the waves in the background, your companions may want to do more physical activities, like walking along the sand or playing a game. Satisfying everyone’s wishes can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Whether you have kids in tow or are going on vacation with a group of friends, planning activities can be stressful — especially if you’ve been designated as the impromptu entertainment coordinator. The good news is that many beachside games require little to no equipment or preparation, which is precisely what you need for a stress-free vacation. From relaxing activities in your cabana to rousing challenges on the sand, here are eight beach games to try this summer.

Beach Pictionary

Grab the cards from your Pictionary game, or have teams make up their own words. Perhaps the best part about this game is that no markers and paper are needed: Use the beach. Pick a word or phrase, and draw an image with a stick or finger in the sand. Like traditional Pictionary, teams will guess what their teammate is drawing, and the group with the most points wins.

Checkers

Ditch the standard-size checkerboard, and opt for an easy-to-carry giant fabric one instead. That way, there’s no risk of losing tiny pieces in the sand. Plus, a rug game is easy to roll and store. Many fabric-constructed sets have another game, such as tic-tac-toe, on the other side to double your fun. 

Cornhole

Whether you’re at a brewery or playing lawn games in someone’s backyard, cornhole reigns supreme in providing entertainment for all ages. However, toting along wooden boards isn’t practical for beachside fun. Luckily, you can get a lightweight cornhole set to travel with, which is great for all ages. Divide the group into teams and let everyone join in the fun.

Credit: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

Frisbee

You don’t have to be an expert to throw a frisbee or flying disc on the beach, so don’t be afraid to try to play while by the water. It only takes two to play, even if one of those is your pup. Create teams, or just toss the frisbee back and forth with your partner as you perfect your game. It’s also great to take on the go, as frisbees pack easily into luggage and your beach bag.

Musical Towels

Need to entertain the kids (or rowdy adults!) in a pinch? Try a new take on musical chairs. Appoint one person as moderator to use their phone to play music. Use beach towels or blankets instead of chairs, and have your makeshift DJ stop and start the music at different intervals. Give the winner a prize or gloating privileges for the day.

Paddle Games

You could play traditional badminton, and if you have a set at home, go for it! Although, a new take on paddle games can give the sport a serious upgrade. A glove-like paddle is easy to keep track of, and the shuttlecock is sturdier than the ones traditionally used for the sport. It’s a challenging game to play while having fun in the sun (in a good way). 

Sand Castle Building

Even if you don’t have castle molds, you can still try and create interesting sand structures. You can have a contest requiring everyone to get creative and use anything other than traditional sand molds (think: pots, cups, plastic food containers, or anything else you’ve toted to the beach with you). Then, pick a spot on the beach, give a time limit, and have someone serve as a judge or ask passersby to decide who wins.

Uno

Who says you can’t play a card game at the beach — especially if you have waterproof cards? Uno Splash makes the perfect beachside game when you need to stay under an umbrella during the heat of the day. Not only do the cards resist water, but they also wipe off easily, so you can keep them sand-free as you play. Hoyle also has a traditional set of waterproof cards if you enjoy playing more classic games.